The Romany Spread is a past-present-future 21-card spread which, like the Lenormand Grand Tableau, allows for many interactions among the cards. If the reader is comfortable with allowing the story to unfold, and sufficient time is given to intuit the nuances, this spread can be useful in understanding the root of present challenges and shine light where distractions may have set the querent off-course. This is the kind of spread where you don't have to rely heavily on the traditional meanings of the cards. It works really well with facings (where characters in cards look face to face or stand back to back) and allows for more of a story to unravel.
Decks that work well with this spread have courts and characters that show emotion, face multiple directions and are close-up and personal. Decks that don't work well have characters in silhouette, pip and animal decks. Recently I've been using these decks with this spread: The Sasuraibito Tarot, The Beautiful Rebellion Tarot, Tarot of the Hidden Realm. I've also seen this spread done with Lenormand. The image above is a reading from The Everyday Witch Tarot.
Placing the Cards
From my research, it is difficult to determine whether laying the cards LEFT TO RIGHT in a horizontal direction or TOP TO BOTTOM in a vertical direction is historically accurate. I imagine that different families of seers passed down the teachings as their elders did before them. Either way, twenty-one cards are laid in a 7 x 3 grid (7 cards across, 3 cards down). The top row traditionally represents the past, the middle row represents the present and the bottom row represents the future. In variation one, the past is cards 1 to 7 and in variation two, the past is cards 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, which means that only two cards (cards 1 & 7) are common to both variations. See the diagrams below:
I wanted to understand the nuances of this spread and tap into the frequency of the gypsy spirit and the wisdom of seers who saw life differently than I do. However, I couldn't reconcile that the future (the potential future) lay on the bottom row. I wanted to see the future above - the unknown. I persisted in trying to do readings with both variations. Finally I gave up because I felt like the readings were forced and weren't coming through in a way I could interpret.
Recently though, I have been drawn to use this spread so I spent more time playing with the order in which the cards are placed. However, before I go on, if you are not familiar with this spread, you should also know that the vertical columns can also be assigned meaning. Here is a brief summary:
Columns I & IV are about the querent now. Column I is more about the querent herSELF, whereas column IV is more about what's going on presently.
Column VI is the short-term future (next few months).
Column VII is a little further down the road than column VI.
Columns II, III & V have a variety of interpretations depending on your source and ultimately, preference.
Column II: Personal Environment, Situation, Home, Surroundings.
Column III: Hopes, Dreams, Fears, Opportunity, Challenge. Some readers assign specific meaning to each position within the column. For example, the 1st card is what you hope for right now, the 2nd card reveals your fear and the 3rd represents long-term goals.
Column V: Unforeseen developments, surprises, hints of fate, karmic justice.
Dealing What Felt More Intuitive
Returning to this spread because I love storytelling, making connections and wanting to use a larger, more versatile spread, I decided to lay the present row first - seven cards left to right to see what is going on now. Then, because column 4 also reflects what is going on now, it made sense to place a card above and below the the 4th card making a cross 7 wide and 3 high. (In my Celtic Cross, I place the two centre cards then above, below, recent past (left of centre), near future (right of centre), so it felt right to place these cards above first, then below. Keeping in mind what is above is a reflection of what is below, it is really just a matter of which way one is looking.) What is below is the root, the cause, the history and the past. It's how we arrived at the present. It's the actions or inactions that brought us to the present moment. However, knowing how time weaves in and out, spirals and occasionally warps, it's really important to look at the whole picture!
So with the cross laid out (nine of twenty-one cards), it was time to decide where and how I would place the remaining four sets of three cards. And that's how I was seeing them, four sets of three cards. I could lay them in spokes, straight lines or some other creative pattern. My quandary was, which set would I lay 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th? Should I be consistent and lay top, then bottom? Or should I go to the past and build the cards moving forward? These are all important questions to ask yourself when you are creating new spreads or modifying traditional ones. And if you haven't already thought of it, there was yet another option! I could fill in columns 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 above and below as I had done column 4 - and that is what I did.
My revision of a traditional spread felt good and made the storytelling much easier. Because it is quite a drastic modification of a very old spread and I wanted to respect a culture of seers with whom I felt connected, yet carried no known lineage, I renamed my spread "The Lightweaver". While this is a spread that has a layout order and general placement meanings, it is entirely fluid and intuitive.
You will find below a (partial) third-party reading. This is not something I normally do, but as there had been more than one querent asking about healing in regards to the same person, I spent longer than usual talking with Spirit in search of answers, ways to find peace and reconciliation with relationships gone wrong. The woman in question is unaware of the ripple effect of hurt around her. This reading is more to console the querents than to help the woman in subject on her path. And so, this reading is addressed to the querents. The deck used was the "Anna K Tarot".
The question: "Please help us to understand what is going on with "this young woman".
As an overview, look at the balance of light, dark and shades between. Do you see that there is a great deal of light in the foundation (the past)? And from what I know, this is an accurate perception from both sides of the story.
PRESENT (Middle Row): In an effort to deal with her pain, grief and general sadness be it real or illusion, the young woman has chosen to isolate herself. I see the 5 of Pentacles here as a chosen situation, almost a coping strategy. What is within the walls of the church, where it is light and warm, represents society and traditional culture, somewhere this young woman cannot cope at this point in time. Look to the left at the light, playful and optimistic Ace of Rods; this is her hope, her dream, how she feels on good days. She struggles living on either side of "Death" with the heavier 3 of Swords and lighter feeling of the carefree and fearless Ace. Choosing to see and believe that the cup is half full is not easy for her. She feels the reality of the highs and lows of the "Wheel" on a daily basis. Her heart, mind and spirit are in a challenging place at this time in her life. She looks to the energy of the Queen of Pentacles for solace. By connecting with the earth, nature and the abundance of life, she finds comfort, pleasure and reassurance.
COLUMN I: HerSELF is ready to embrace the higher energy of the World card. Look how above and below are mirroring each other and what is in between. The World, the oneness with the cosmos, the place where she understands her spirituality and life purpose is not easily accessed. (Think of the below cards as subconscious and the top row as superconscious.) This time in her life, she must practice meditation daily so she can get to know herSELF at a soul level. It is through this path that she will find her way in the world once again. It is important for her family and friends to give her space and allow this time to unfold as it will.
PRESENT: In order to navigate the major change in her life (Death) and commit to the spirit of the Ace of Rods and leave her sorrow in the past, the isolation she has created is absolutely necessary. To all the querents, I ask, please give her space. She is on the right path.
COLUMN IV: Look how in column I & IV there is an optimistic card in the root/subconscious and a challenging card in the present. The 9 of Swords is easier for her than the World. Right? Isn't it easier to play the victim than to do the work of healing and commit to the daily meditation practice? She likely questions herself every single day, whether she has made bad decisions or not.
Looking at the whole picture, there are several cards that are nearing the end, moving through or representing the end of a cycle. This reading should be a comfort to those who are concerned about the young woman. Her environment (COLUMN II) shows powerful energy, which is what she needs to navigate these challenging days. She IS facing her inner conflict. Part of that conflict is the on-going struggle with leaving the past behind (5 of Cups). COLUMN V represents what is hidden or perhaps, karmic patterns that she needs to work through. The controlling energy of the Emperor in her past/subconscious is very hard to leave behind and if that represents her father, that would also indicate an important pattern that she will be continuing to navigate in this lifetime. Above however, shows that she does have that ability, and it's not the "moving on energy" of the 8 of Cups - it's the Chariot! I want to shout out in support and remind her that in order to keep moving forward, she will need to go within. And she has this! Her potential is bright, very, very bright.
COLUMN VI representing the short term future is about balance. Conscious practices of balance. If she is ready to go back to school or think about a new job, Temperance is in her subconscious. She knows about alchemy . . .
COUNT THE CARDS! Eight of twenty-one cards are majors (about 40%), please give this girl some space and recognize that she is
going through some major shifts. If her journey is so important that you have reached out to me, then please know that some aspect of her journey is YOUR journey too. While all this "work" is exhausting, it will be worth it. Have patience.
For more details about this reading or your own personal reading, please use my contact form or leave a comment below.
As a sidenote, I have found that many clients come to readings during challenging times and would benefit immensely from some pre-reading reflection. In going through the "readings menu" on my Etsy Shop @SadhanasHealingRoom, I hope that you will be able to refine your question or concern so that you will get the best reading possible. Please also know that the menu is meant to inspire and help create a spread just for you and your unique situation if necessary. Sometimes the art on a particular deck resonates more than another, so let me know about that as well.
Namaste and stay well, Sadhana
Integrative Healing with Sadhana offers instruction and guidance as a full healing package or you can choose individual practices such as Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Space Clearing or Intuitive Readings in Gibsons BC. Either way, you will be met exactly where you are at and together, we will adapt practices to fit your individual needs improving your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.